T1 Corruption: Soldering, Shrinking and Troubleshooting

May 27th, 2010 Posted in T1 Corruption

It was high time I took a break from working on the Gauntlet machine, so I decided to put forth some effort to finishing up the T1 Corruption.

This has been the most complex circuit I’ve worked with (as far as number of components and number of external controls (Pots & switches), so using Visio, I began to map out how I was going to lay this thing out on a PCB I picked up from Rat Shack (Part No. 276-150, the same board I used for the Triggered Drum Light).

I probably spent two or three hours mapping out how I wanted to lay things out, trying to leave room in case I wanted to piggy back some LEDs onto the board (there are standoffs built into the faceplate of the enclosure I bought for this project, and they are perfectly spaced to fit the pre-drilled holes on the PCB.  The board would then sit right in front of the old 7-segment LED window.  Putting a few LEDs on the board, I could then make a logo up and have a little backlit nameplate, or at least that’s the idea).  Overall I was happy with how things turned out:

(Click Image for Larger View)

As you can see, there is a lot going on here. It wasn’t going to be a quick project to solder up, nevermind the fact that I was manufacturing my own cables to run from the faceplate to the control boxes (that I bought from Ax-Man).

I ended up starting with the cables.  They were going to be about a foot and a half long, with a 1/4″ phono jack on one end (to go into the faceplate), and an RCA jack on the other end (to go into the controller).  I started soldering them up, but quickly realized that the shrink tubing I had bought (on-line) was too narrow to fit the two wires I had soldered up.  Luckily I knew a place locally that sold shrink tubing in longer lengths, and while it probably took me an hour of cutting wire, stripping wire, soldering screwing on connectors and shrinking the tubing, they ended up turning out pretty nice.

I was able to hook them up to my breadboard, and surprisingly they all worked like a charm.

Within the next few days I figured I’d get started in transferring the parts to the PCB.  This was not an easy process.  With over 100 solder points, I was going to be at this for a while.

Over two nights and probably four hours of soldering, I finally finished with the soldering.  I hooked everything up, including the new switches I had bought a day or two prior, and it wasn’t working.  ICs were there, so I hadn’t made that mistake twice.  Everything looked solid, no components were loose.  The only thing left I could think of was the soldering.

I started to check each solder point, making sure nothing was loose, and nothing was shorting.  quickly I found two spots where the leg from a component or a wire was too far over, and probably shorting.  These were kind of long as it is, so I took out the clippers and nipped off the long shorting ends.  Fired it up, and now I was getting sound!

Unfortunately, some of the controls were not working, particularly the two components that were hooked up to the switches, the killswitch and one of the tone knobs.  I had already put in enough time that night, so I called it a day, knowing that was the next thing on my plate.

Today I picked up the PCB, after letting it sit for a day, and started troubleshooting. Using the continuity setting on my multimeter, I went looking for shorts on or near the switches, and couldn’t find any.  Switches seemed to be working fine, so I couldn’t figure out what was the problem.  So I snipped the wires on the switches and using some jumpers, hooked up a switch I had been working with on this project prior to finding these new switches.  And….

“Great”, now the switch that was working, no longer was working. It didn’t take long to figure out why.  One of the wires had wiggled loose from it’s solder point.  Soldered it back up, and the switch worked perfectly.  Resoldered the snipped wires back to the existing switch, and went to work on the other switch (to activate the killswitch).

This one was acting as if it was always on, regardless of what position I had it in.  In the off position, the signal should be routed to the Out Jack, and in the on position, the signal should be routed to the killswitch and then to the Out Jack.  A simple SPDT switch setup.  Hooking up my multimeter, the continuity was acting just like I thought it should, but it wasn’t working right when I had everything running.  I snipped the wires on this one, and used three jumpers, and started playing around how they were hooked up to the switch.

It turns out that this switch is just funky (or at least I’m not familiar with).  Basically the switch will send signal to one out pin, or both out pins, depending on the position.  So I would need the “always on” pin to be to the killswitch, and the “part on” pin to be wired directly to the out.  This was as easy as flipping the outputs around.

I soldered everything back up.  Powered it on, and bingo, everything is working!  Short of the case and running power, this project is getting really close to done.  I enlarged a few of the existing holes on the faceplate and started mounting up the jacks, switches and pots.

It’s looking really sharp.  Next step is working on the lighting that I’m going to install in this box!

P.S. – I’ve also decided on a name for this project. From here on out, it will be the T1 Corruption, in homage to it’s humble beginnings as a T1 Test Unit.

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